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Saturday, 25 October 2008

If you tag people, people tag back . . .

. . . which is why I'm now doing this atheist meme, courtesy of Susan over at Intrinsically Knotted.

Can you remember the day that you officially became an atheist?

Nope! If I'd wanted to stop being an atheist, that would have required an official change.

Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

I remember being quite taken by the notion of agnosticism when I was eleven years old or so. I knew the term referred to God-belief but frankly, I was going through an ultra-skeptical phase and I wanted to be agnostic about the existence of everything besides myself. You see, my mother explained to me about Descartes when I was ten, and whilst Descartes' argument about the existence of God never seemed very sensible to me, I did go through a stage where the fact that it was possible to doubt almost everything was just fascinating.

How about the last time you spoke or prayed to God with actual thought that someone was listening?

I've never prayed with the belief that someone was listening. On the other hand, eight years old is the earliest time that I can remember others' belief in God bothering me, and one of the things that bothered me was the whole "if you don't believe you'll go to hell" line. I'm very sensitive to disapproval from authority, and even an imaginary authority who disapproved of me badly enough to condemn me to the worst punishment anyone could dream up was a really painful thought. So around that time I prayed quite a lot of "Dear God, if you exist, I'm really sorry I don't believe in you but I care about what's actually true and I'm honestly not doing this out of malice or anything . . ."

The last time I prayed in that sense was three years ago when I was twenty. That story is here and I don't really want to go over it again.

Did anger towards God or religion help cause you to be an atheist or agnostic?

Well, no, because I've pretty much always been one! Critical thinking, a love of the truth, and the simple fact that my parents didn't believe were the major factors, not necessarily in that order.

Getting angry with God for being so unreasonable as to dole out infinite punishments for finite crimes never helped me much in the whole internal "Gosh, there's an imaginary authority who really, really disapproves of me" debate, either. That debate stopped once I had been through the mill on that issue -- once I knew that I had been in a situation where I had a strong reason for wanting to believe. It was much less credible after that for me to worry that I was just disbelieving because I didn't want to change my worldview.

Here is a good one: Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

I read a book about skeptics when I was quite young. I thought skeptics were awesome, running around finding the truth behind the lies. The notion that there were people for whom 'skeptic' was a doubtful classification implying an unwillingness to believe the truth never occurred to me. Mind you, the first person I heard saying 'skeptic' in a tone of voice that implied that it was something bad was 'psychic' Sylvia Brown, and she's got a mercenary reason to make that implication!

I never believed in ghosts.

Do you want to be wrong?

Very much not.

Okay, this time I tag John Evo, Maria, and Eshu. If you feel like doing a meme, go ahead and pick this one up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I took up this meme!